|Eastern Kentucky stream affected by mountaintop|
removal (Univ. of Kentucky photo by Matt Barton)
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, was co-authored by Breneé Muncy, Simon Bonner, Andrea Drayer and Christopher Barton.
Researchers studied 23 streams in Eastern Kentucky, Spence reports in a separate story. Mountaintop removal "results in a great deal of overburden material—rocks and soil—which is often poured into adjacent valleys, covering all or portions of headwater streams found there. In addition, valley filling can change water chemistry through leaching and surface runoff. Salamanders are the main vertebrates in these low-order streams—shallow streams that occasionally can go dry—where their populations are vital to a balanced ecosystem."